More than a thousand people crowded the front steps of the California Capitol to protest Gov. Gavin Newsom's decision to require all children to get the coronavirus vaccine to attend public and private schools.
Some Sonoma County parents joined in a boycott today, keeping their kids home to protest vaccine mandates. Mattie Washburn Elementary in Windsor had 92 children absent today. That's compared with 34 last Monday. Brooks Elementary in Windsor had almost three times as many students out today than last Monday.
Attendance was also down about 10 percent at Dunham Elementary, a charter school in Petaluma, where some parents are engaged in a lawsuit over the district's mask policy. Nine students there quarantining after being exposed to the virus Thursday. School officials in Santa Rosa said attendance was normal. Mayra Perez, Superintendent of Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District estimated about 3 percent of students were absent Monday, but said, "honestly, I was more concerned about the spotting of a mountain lion that briefly closed two schools."
Newsom's mandate, announced earlier this month, made California the first state in the country to say it will require the COVID-19 vaccine for schoolchildren once it receives full federal approval. Many parents at the rally in Sacramento on Monday had pulled their children out of school hoping the absences send a message to state officials. About 72% of Californians 12 and older are fully vaccinated.